Organisational Team Video HowTo

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How to get Quality Video Production

This Article goes into more detail with regard to preparation leading to getting good quality conference videos.

The Organisational team's work should end with the start of the conference. Their attentions must needs turn to the attendees and speakers once the conference has started. For that reason they must be ready two days before opening to hand off to the person I will call the Venue Manager.

The Venue manager

will be liaison between the organisational team and the Media team. He should not be Speaker liaison. His responsibility will be purely technical, looking after rooms, making sure they're unlocked at the right time, equipment is in place and working, ensuring each room's media team are onsite and ready to go at the right times, heating, lighting and the guy who has direct contact with the venue's maintenance staff. Ideally he would be a professional at this and even more ideally an AV professional.

Timetable in the lead-up to the conference


An inventory of equipment at the earliest possible stage is very important. Too often this is left to the last minute which results in the Media team having to "Make Do" with what is in place already or what can be cobbled together. Do not make the assumption that the equipment will be in place. Again forward planning, budgeting and inventory will always create the better product in the end.

The following is a typical task list for the Venue manager that relates to Video production.

  • At the earliest opportunity after booking a site, get an inventory of equipment at each venue. Normally venue management will be able to supply lists of:
    • What is in each venue
    • What extra equipment is available
  • Once the inventory is in hand match it with what would be best possible requirements. For instance, some venues may have fixed microphones and in which case there may not be wireless receivers in the venue. Establish this before hand so the the inventory can be brought up to spec.
  • Identify alternative sources of equipment. Some extra equipment will invariably be needed to bring the venue up to standard, additionally radio mikes and receivers can be fickle. Use a supplier for these who is also capable of supplying emergency backup at short notice.
  • In the days immediately prior to the conference have all the equipment checked and do sound and video tests.

Event Type

Establish the type of presentation: ie Workshop, Panel Discussion, Instructional Presentation or Argumentative Presentation. Each has different technical and venue requirements. This should be finalised a month out from the conference so that the team is ready for.........

Venue Assignment

Besides the type of event/presentation other factors come into play. If I were to do a presentation on OOo in year 1 to 5 classroom activities, I would require a much smaller venue than say Simon Phipps debating the future of SUN in OOo with Mike Meeks. Panel discussions need for instance, more than one camera: one wide shot, one close up and an Audience rover and so a bigger mixing desk and more crew.

These should be established well out so that the Venue manager can make adjustments to inventory well before the event.

Venue Layout

Conferences often happen in University settings. Large lecture theatres are usually designed well and have facilities for video, however often small sessions are held in classrooms which are designed for different needs and are often not ideal facilities for presentations. Frequently the focus point in such classrooms is at the narrow ends of a rectangular shaped room. Where possible the layout should be modified with a semicircular seating layout with the presenter being on the wide side of the room. This allows for shallower audience seating and the camera position close to the speaker without interfering with audience view.

Inspect the room s and get the layout planned early in the process. It's a good idea to have a plan made that shows the way the room will be laid out. That plan should also have other detail, such as;

  • The Number of chairs normally in the room,
  • Tables
  • Lecterns
  • Power point locations
  • Ethernet connections
  • and where cables are going to be laid.

Plastic cable floor covers should be available from good AV hire companies, but make sure there is gaffer tape available in any case, for emergencies.

A layout plan makes it a lot easier for the Venue crew to be able to arrive in a venue and get it set up quickly. It also makes it easier to assign spaces for the different types of event. For instance, a workshop that requires some hands-on work by attendees, whether it be writing or using a laptop will need tables, however a panel discussion that requires a lot of audience participation in discussion will want no tables and be laid out for easy movement for the Mike carriers.

Some rooms will need to be floaters and will of necessity have an extra one or two people assigned to them for the time before a session starts to put the layout in place for the individual session. Try to keep these to a minimum because they can lead to issues and friction between the venue team and speakers.


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